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USF’s six softball players to look out for in the 2024 season

Four returners had a record-breaking season last year. USF ATHLETICS PHOTO

USF’s softball team has one week to prepare for their season opening tournament in Tampa next Tuesday. 

Coming off a 32-24 season last year, the Bulls are looking to clinch their 18th NCAA appearance under long-time head coach Ken Eriksen. 

With 16 returners and 14 new signees, here are six softball players to keep an eye out for this season.

Sophomore infielder Kathy Garcia-Soto

Sophomore infielder Kathy Garcia-Soto was one of the players part of the USF vs. Puerto Rican National Team on Oct. 23.

Garcia-Soto played her first season with USF in 2023 along with joining the Puerto Rican National Team in the summer. 

Related: ‘Like I’m back home’: Three Bulls play for Puerto Rico in preseason match – The Oracle

During her 52 appearances for USF, Garcia-Soto was the first freshman named AAC Co-Defensive Player of the Year in 2023. 

Last season, she had a .260 batting average along with three home runs and 14 RBIs.

Garcia-Soto guided the Bulls to the second round of the AAC Tournament in her freshman year alone, making her a key player to look out for this season.

Redshirt senior outfielder Jordyn Kadlub

Entering her sixth season at South Florida, redshirt senior outfielder Jordyn Kadlub was named to the AAC All-Conference second team last season.

In her 48 game appearances last year, Kadlub reached a team-high of 164 putouts. 

She had a .284 batting average en route to being named to the AAC All-Tournament Team. 

A recurring player in the Bulls’ program, Kadlub’s seniority will play a role in how the season can pan out.

Redshirt sophomore pitcher/utility Payton Dixon

Redshirt sophomore pitcher and utility Payton Dixon entered her second season of eligibility at USF.

As a defensive player, Dixon was named to the AAC Pitcher of the Week on March 13 after striking out 29 batters in 32 innings that weekend. 

She recorded a career-high of nine strikeouts against Army 2-0 on March 6, 2023. 

Related: Bulls win two, lose one as they even their record

Dixon finished her season with a team-high 1.50 ERA and 77 strikeouts in 24 appearances. 

Getting a second opportunity on the field this year, Dixon’s a player to keep in mind as she gains more experience throughout the season.

Senior utility Marissa Trivelpiece

Entering her second season at USF, senior utility Marissa Trivelpiece led the team in multiple offensive categories last year.

With 40 hits, 33 RBIs and eight home runs last season, Trivelpiece was one of the best hitters on the Bulls’ roster. 

She was named to the AAC All-Conference Second Team last season. 

Trivelpiece was only one double and one home run away from breaking into the Top 10 single-season program record for both last year. 

In a short amount of time, Trivelpiece became an elite player on the roster in her singular season at South Florida.

Senior outfielder Bailey Drapola

Senior outfield Bailey Drapola is one of the 14 transfers who signed this year to USF. 

Coming from Pitt, Drapola finished her career with the Panthers (24-25, 6-17 ACC) with a .288 batting average

In her three seasons there, she totaled 56 RBIs and 14 home runs in 98 game appearances.

Her prior experience with the Panthers can translate well on the field this year. 

Senior infielder Sam Mallinder 

Along with Drapola, senior infielder Sam Mallinder transferred from Northern Illinois University.

She finished her time with the Huskies (26-25, 15-13 MAC) with a .298 batting average and 30 RBIs. 

Mallinder ranked No. 3 on the team with 45 hits and 65 total bases. 

As a new member on the team, Mallinder’s seniority can be an asset to the nine new freshmen on the roster.